AMSAT-NA Satellite FAQs and Intros

This is a collection of articles introducing amateur radio satellites (and related topics). Many people have written such articles, and all the articles have their strengths and weaknesses. So, we offer as many as we can find. You should find some good info in each of these articles.


AO-27 and SO-50 FAQ by Ray Soifer, W2RS, answers many frequently-asked questions about operating with FM on AMRAD-OSCAR 27 and SAUDISAT-OSCAR 50.

A Simple Satellite Mobile QRP Station for the Beginner by Douglas Quagliana, KA2UPW, describes working AO-27 with simple equipment.

Working your first Amateur Satellite by Tony Langdon, VK3JED, describes working SUNSAT (SO-35) using simple equipment.

Working the Easy Sats is an informal introduction to the amateur satellite program, combined with hints on getting started using the more easily accessed satellites. It is 36 pages long, and chock full of specific, useful information aimed at the new satellite enthusiast. Updated in April 2002 by N1JEZ. Note: this document is currently without a maintainer, so it is probably out of date.

Download in one of these formats:

This document is quite large for reading on-line, so I suggest you download and print it. If you'd rather browse the document on-line, use the .PDF format, since it has some hot links and navigational aids. If you don't already have a .PDF viewer installed, download Acrobat from Adobe.

The Microsoft Word format version can be read with WordPad (included with recent versions of Windows) or StarOffice if you don't have Word.

The Amateur Satellite Resource Guide is a 9-page document concentrating on pointers to sources of detailed information about the amateur satellite program. It's intended to be useful as a handout at a satellite talk or hamfest booth. Updated in April 2001.

Download in PDF format:

This document is intended to be a reference, so again I suggest you download and print it. If you'd rather browse the document on-line, you can (if you have your browser set up for PDF).

Amateur Satellite FAQ by Stephen Holmstead, N7TQL.

Keplerian Elements Tutorial from the InstantTrack documentation by Franklin Antonio, N6NKF.

Keplerian Elements Formats collected from various sources by Paul Williamson, KB5MU.

Not a FAQ, but a good learning tool: Learn About Orbits, a program for IBM PC that teaches about satellite orbits. It includes a graphical orbit simulator that shows a perspective view of the orbit. From the USAF Academy Department of Astronautics.

The collection of scripts from the Houston AMSAT Net contains lots of good information for beginners.

The Nine Things They May Forget To Tell You About When You Are Getting Started on AO-13 and AO-10 by Timothy Hickman, N3JON.

The Case for Polarization Switching by Jim White, WD0E, explaining why you might want circularly polarized antennas that can switch between left-hand and right-hand polarization.

Information on over 1500 satellites is available in the form of a shareware hypertext database for Windows 3.1.

Frequently-Asked Questions about InstantTrack and their answers.

If you're thinking of using amateur radio on your satellite project, AMSAT-NA and IARU have approved this Background Information for Prospective Owners and Operators of Satellites Utilizing Frequencies Allocated to the Amateur-Satellite Service. See also this FAQ on Using Amateur-Satellite Service Frequencies for your satellite project. And if you want your satellite to be known by an OSCAR number, see the AMSAT-OSCAR Numbers Policy.


Updated January 9, 2004. If you have a FAQ or introductory article that should be added here, or to comment on this page, send mail to KB5MU.

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